Louis Esterhuizen. Philip Levine volg W.S. Merwin op as laureate


Luidens ‘n berig by The New York Times het die Library of Congress gister bekend gemaak dat Philip Levine aangewys is as die VSA se volgende poet laureate. Hy volg W.S. Merwin op. Volgens  James Billington, hoofbibliotekaris van die Library of Congress, was die lys genomineerdes indrukwekkend, maar Levine se nominasie het glo algemene byval gevind: “I find him an extraordinary discovery because he introduced me to a whole new world I hadn’t connected to in poetry before. He’s the laureate, if you like, of the industrial heartland,” het Billington gesê en bygevoeg: “It’s a very, very American voice. I don’t know that in other countries you get poetry of that quality about the ordinary workingman.”

In reaksie op sy aanstelling het die 83-jarige digter van 20 bundels soos volg reageer: “How can I put it? It’s like winning the Pulitzer. If you take it too seriously, you’re an idiot. But if you look at the names of the other poets who have won it, most of them are damn good. Not all of them – I’m not going to name names – but most. My editor was thrilled, and my wife jumped for joy. She hasn’t done that in a while.”

Gaan lees gerus die volledige oorsig van sy lewe en werk op The New York Times se webblad.

Heelonder plaas ek die nuwe laureate se bekende vers “An Abandoned Factory, Detroit“, met as lusmaker die slotstrofe uit die gedig “He Would Never Use One Word Where None Would Do

Fact is, silence is the perfect water:
unlike rain it falls from no clouds
to wash our minds, to ease our tired eyes,
to give heart to the thin blades of grass
fighting through the concrete for even air
dirtied by our endless stream of words.


An Abandoned Factory, Detroit


The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.

Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,

And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.

(c) Philip Levine



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